A Sweeter, Greener Valentine’s Day

iStock 000011078790XSmall A Sweeter, Greener Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day is a tricky holiday among the Green Crowd.  Some hate the commercialism and waste…. not to mention the unrealistic expectations on the men in our lives.  But others see it as a chance to turn consumerism on its ear and show Mother Nature some love, by giving no-waste gifts or supporting Fair Trade or eco-conscious businesses.

I must admit, it’s nowhere near the top of my list, but NatureMom’s article on Vintage Valentine’s Day gifts almost had me buying the little red tin tea set for myself!  I love the point she makes on vintage gifts being from a simpler time.  I like to think retro items can give us a nostalgic break from our busy lives.  Or the chance to share a fun memory of our childhood… just how that tin tea set reminded me of my Grandma.

So please forgive any preachy-ness that might creep in these tips for Greening your Valentine’s Day.  As you probably know by now, my advice is always that the “greenest” gift is nothing at all, because who needs more stuff?

But please know that if you “heart” shopping on February 14th, we are thrilled you’ve come here for advice.  Be sure to share with us how you are taking a detour from mainstream this year.

Flowers

Most of the flowers grown for Valentine’s Day come from small countries with lax environmental standards.  The “perfect” bloom is so sought after, some greenhouses actually use banned chemicals like DDT as pesticides.  These chemicals pollute the air where they’re used, not to mention the lungs of the underpaid workers growing them.  Then we bring them into our homes and take a big whiff every time we pass the flawless bouquet.

Solution: A Brighter Bloom

For something that lives longer than a week, give a potted flower or plant instead.  Think of a stunning orchid or a lucky bamboo plant.  Lilies and ivy reduce indoor air pollution.  If only a bouquet of cut flowers will do, go organic with a company like Organic Bouquet.

Chocolate

Nearly 40 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year at Valentine’s Day.  But at what price? In his new documentary, The Dark Side of Chocolate, award-winning journalist Miki Mistrati shows how children as young as eight years old are being trafficked into working the Ivory Coast cocoa fields for little or no pay.

Solution: Fair Trade Chocolate

The Fair Trade certification lets you know that farming families earned a fair wage for their work and that environmentally sustainable practices were used.

Valentine’s Day Cards

Globally, around one billion cards are sent each year at Valentine’s Day, making it the second largest card-sending holiday to Christmas.  School children pass out 20 Valentine’s or more each.  But the commercialism doesn’t stop with cartoon characters and teen queens featured on the cards, there’s also suckers, stickers and other trash can-bound trinkets adorning them.

Solution: Recycled or Plantable Seed Paper Cards

Coming from a family where our grandmother was a postmaster, we can’t help but wonder what she would think of an e-card. Yes, it’s way greener, but there’s something so impersonal about it.  It’s a good thing cards made from recycled paper are easier to find these days.  And for kids, we absolutely adore these plantable seed paper cards from Botanical Paperworks or Project Rainforest Eco Friendly Valentines.

We also found this fun project at Inhabitots – how to make friendship bracelets out of plastic bags.  What a great substitute for the paper valentines!

Jewelry

Blood Diamond raised awareness and made great progress, but there’s still work to be done to make sure gems and precious metals are mined and made sustainably.  And most importantly, that no one’s life is risked for something that’s supposed to be a symbol of love.

Solution: Precious and Pure

There are so many options, you’ll never have to walk into the mall jeweler again…. Vintage shops, Goodwill, consignment.  We love finding a necklace made with shards of glass or china on Etsy, or how about this recycled sterling silver heart charm necklace?

And as always, we love to encourage you to give the gift of an experience.  Dinner out at a restaurant that serves local or organic foods, a massage, an outdoor adventure… there are so many ways to gift an experience to the one you love.

If you do opt for a physical gift, be sure to wrap it green by using something you already have lying around like newspaper, a decorative box or basket, or a fabric gift bag.

We’d love to hear your ideas for greening Valentine’s Day.  Tell us how you’re celebrating in a non-consumerism way, or how you’re using the day to support eco-conscious or Fair Trade businesses.

PinExt A Sweeter, Greener Valentines Day
  • Carol Giambri

    Loved article and truth. I prefer to see Valentine’s Day as everyday to be remembered not just a once a year “celebration.” If I can make something as a gift that one way of sharing “love.” I prefer doing my shopping at thrift stores. Precious new items await for my arrival. I prefer to take the commercialism out of buying regardless of the occasion. I appreciate the Fair Trade certifications when I shop at chain stores for some necessities. Thanks for sharing.
    Carol

  • http://www.GreenGiftsGuide.com Amity Hook-Sopko

    Thanks, Carol. I love thrift store shopping too. How do you feel about giving a second hand item as a gift? We’ve heard some mixed opinions on that one :)

  • Anonymous

    You’re right, Amity, how much sweeter to get away from the traditional … commercial … gifts and give something from the heart! There are so many more personal ways to show someone you love them … and it’s not a hoodie-footie from PajamaGram! ;-) Great suggestions!

  • http://twitter.com/SusanMcKenzieWY Susan McKenzie

    Amity… you presented some new reasons to me, to go green…. I agree wholeheartedly and truly dislike the commercialism of all the major holidays! Great suggestions on alternatives… thanks so much!

  • http://CarlaJGardiner.com Carla

    Great job Amity! I never really gave much thought to the varying downsides to different products. I don’t celebrate holidays of any sort, instead I chose to honor and love family and friends year round. When I see something that reminds me of that person, I get it if it’s within my budget. If not, well I love to shop so there will be something else down the road that catches my eye and heart for my loved ones. You are right on so many points it’s hard to pick one. If I need to though, I agree we all have way too much “stuff”. Instead cook a special meal, spend special time with that person and give them the gift of You! Your time and undivided attention is sorely lacking in the world today.

  • http://www.GreenGiftsGuide.com Amity Hook-Sopko

    Carla, I love the idea of cooking a special meal for someone. SO much more thought, effort, and personal attention goes into that than wandering the mall or a discount store.

  • http://www.GreenGiftsGuide.com Amity Hook-Sopko

    Thanks for reading, Susan. We should also mention that the good old fashioned love letter never goes out of style for Valentine’s Day :) http://teamfamilyonline.com/valentines-day/

  • http://www.GreenGiftsGuide.com Amity Hook-Sopko

    LOL – hoodie-footie! Let’s also mention that a second-hand gift, or just the gift of spending time with a loved one, is financially smart too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ElvieLook Elvie Look

    Really great gift ideas for anytime!

  • Anonymous

    Boy, that’s an eye opener! I’m not sure how I’ll feel about receiving a bouquet of roses again. Thanks for the link to the fair trade online store! Will look over it more carefully soon-

    Lily

  • Anonymous

    Boy, that’s an eye opener! I’m not sure how I’ll feel about receiving a bouquet of roses again. Thanks for the link to the fair trade online store! Will look over it more carefully soon-

    Lily

  • http://www.uncommongeneration.com Claudia Looi

    Great alternatives to gift giving. We live green. We are a family that give one big special gift each year, that is travel. Not much into ‘knick knacks’ like before.

  • Anonymous

    I must admit that my children are more green than me…but you have peeked my interest! Great ideas to look into to. Thanks!

  • http://www.annemariecross.com Annemarie Cross

    What an eye opener. In fact, just a few weeks ago we did watch the movie Blood Diamond – which made me feel sick to my stomach. Great article! The greatest gift from my children? A big hug and the words “I love you mum”. Priceless!

  • http://www.rachellecarlson.com Rachelle

    I love your gift ideas! Our main focus on Valentines day is the love we have for each other as a family. Usually celebrated with a yummy candle light dinner. Kids love candle light dinners – especially when they get to blow out the candle!

  • Debra Pickford

    Thanks for making me rethink what I’m doing for Valentine Day. With all the great ideas…I can go green!!! Thanks

  • Jessica

    Another great option in eco-friendly Valentine gifts is a gift set from Sustainable Sourcing https://secure.sustainablesourcing.com. They have gifts sets with Himalayan organic bath salts and massage stones. I love that Sustainable Sourcing uses eco-friendly business practices and donates money to environmental causes. Plus, right now they are on sale!!

  • Pingback: Give Eco Jewelry This Valentine’s Day

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